Naked Cakes: Vanilla Bean and Chai-Spiced Frosting with Burnt Oranges

I'm sure the first person to decorate a naked cake either ran out of frosting or half-assed it and someone thought it was beautiful.

Either way, I'm all for naked cakes. They are stacked high and you can see how much frosting you are about to consume. The best part about a naked cake is that their beauty lies in how irregular and imperfect they are. I love mine with a bed of frosting on top, syrups or glazes dripping down the sides, and finished with odd combinations of fruit or flowers.

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I was feeling the fall vibes this past week and whipped this darling up in an evening. This could easily be done a day ahead if you want to take this to an event, have dessert ready after dinner, or impress your friends for no reason.

I stuck with a classic, velvety, dense vanilla bean cake. I wanted it dense because I knew I would be cutting it and I want it to be sturdy. HOWEVER, naked cakes could be made even with the flimsiest of crepes - again, imperfection is key. If you showed up to my house with a lop-sided mess of Nutella and whipped cream I would eat it with the same amount of gratitude and joy - I mean, you brought cake to my house. Since frosting is the best part of any dessert I decided to pack all the flavor into that element of the cake. I went with chai-spice inspired flavors that would make me feel like I was actually sipping the tea - but I'm eating cake, so it's better.

There is hella cinnamon in this lil guy so I wanted to warn it's future mouth homes with some cinnamon sticks on top. The oranges are my favorite. They were roasted in the oven with some honey. They get sticky and are more fitting for fall as fresh oranges feel more like summer. As I look at it now, it would go perfectly with a warm orange maple syrup hugging the sides.

 

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VANILLA BEAN CAKE

1 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

pinch salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp. vanilla bean paste

4 eggs

½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine melted butter and sugar and beat until fluffy about 2 minutes. Add vanilla bean paste and eggs and beat until fluffy about 2 minutes more. Add half of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add the milk and beat until combined. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Pour into two greased 6-inch cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave in pan for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

CHAI-SPICED FROSTING

½ cup butter (1 stick), softened

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. ground allspice

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

¼ tsp. ground ginger

3 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

½ tsp. vanilla

Beat butter and cream cheese until combined. Add all spices and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Beat until combined. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add cream and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until combined.

Once the cakes are cooled, cut in half, if desired. I would suggest to if you want a really tall cake - I didn't for this specific cake but since the cakes are so heavy the frosting will pudge out from the sides. But if you, like me, love the imperfections I stuck with the two layers. Even out the tops with a serrated knife. If you are splitting the cakes into 4 layers, I suggest using a cake lever or, very carefully, use the serrated knife to cut the cakes in half horizontally. If you're not confident in making it level, use a ruler to mark where you want to cut the cake on the edges, then use those marks to guide your knife through the middle.

Use about the same amount of frosting between each layer. It's OK if some of it comes out from the sides - you can use this to do the thin layer on frosting on the outside.

Using an off set spatula, smooth the outsides of the cake with small amounts of frosting. If the frosting as been sitting for a while, it might help to put it in the fridge. Use a tall cup of cold water to dip your off set spatula in, in between when you are frosting the outside - this will help make it really smooth and you won't get crumbs on the outside.

Once you think it looks perfectly naked, put it in the fridge for about an hour. This will help give the frosting and your cake some sturdiness. Once chilled, dip your spatula in the water again and smooth it over, adding more frosting to some parts if necessary. 

Eat all cake scraps and any leftover frosting with a spoon (this step required).

 

Let me know if there are any other cakes you would like to see on Simple Sugars!!